Bright Existence

Image of art installation by Robin Mullery.jpg

On display June – August 2021, Rinconada Park

Local artist Robin Mullery has installed “armbands” on 19 trees to visualize how our community has been separated yet banded together to protect one another during the pandemic. The bands are in bright colors with a black fabric underneath, representing both our shared loss and hope. The title comes from Brenda Hillman’s book and poem with the same name, exploring the idea of a universe founded on the tensions of opposites; light and dark, spirit and matter, existence and non-existence – and as in our experience throughout the pandemic, separate and banded together.

Image credit: Ola Hopper

Bright Existence

In spring, the great pines waited a little faster.

Wildflowers turned

on their big circles, under the earth

and the orchid, which always came back

to the same slanty light

in the forest floor

pushed toward the edges of itself.

Lovers, are you there? Why were you one body

in that moist boat. The flower

could touch you everywhere like a party,

that series of bright confetti

in its throat—

Joy! What is it. Where does it come from;

where does it go? Sunlight

seized the flat leaves;

there should be more witnesses at the edges of the self

where everything is both.

The oak moths,

holding pale tomorrows,

dropped on invisible threads before the flower,

the part that wasn’t ready

stayed inside a little longer

and the part that was ready to be something

came forth--


Hillman, Brenda. “Bright Existence” from Bright Existence © 1993 by Brenda Hillman. Published by Wesleyan University Press and reprinted with permission.


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